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Hindu–Islamic relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hinduism is an Indian religion and way of life[1] of the Hindu people, primarily practiced in the Indian subcontinent and other regions which have experienced Hindu influence since ancient and medieval times. Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the Dhārmic religions that it influenced, including Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Lingayatism.[2] The scriptures of Hinduism are the Śruti (the four Vedas, which comprise the original Vedic Hymns, or Samhitas, and three tiers of commentaries upon the Samhitas, namely the Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, and Upanishads);[3] these are considered authentic, authoritative divine revelation. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smṛti literature, which includes the Rāmāyana, Mahābhārata, Bhagavad Gītā, and Purānas, also considered to be sacred Hindu texts.

Islam is a monotheistic religion that originated in the Arabian peninsula, in which God is Allah,[4] the final Islamic prophet being Muhammad, whom Muslims believe delivered the central Islamic scripture, the Qurān. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions which pre-date it─those religions claiming descent from Abraham.[5] It influenced many faiths such as Sikhism, the Baháʼí Faith, and others. The Quran and the Ḥadīth literature are the primary Islamic scriptures, while the sunnah consists of the Islamic traditional customs and practices which all Muslims are expected to follow.

Hinduism and Islam share some ritual practices such as fasting and pilgrimage, but differ in their views on animal slaughter, cousin marriages, circumcision, casteism, cult images, Sati, Devdasi,[6] open-air cremation, henotheism/monotheism, and vegetarianism. Their historical interaction since the British colonial rule in India has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism, as well as periods of religious discrimination, intolerance, and violence. As a religious minority in India, Muslims assimilated to local Hindu traditions and the Hindu roots of converts over a period of 13 centuries. The boundaries between Islam and Hinduism remained flexible until the period of British colonial rule.[7]

Comparison between Islam and Hinduism

Theology and concept of God

Hinduism is a system of thought in which the concept of God varies according to its diverse traditions.[8][9][10][11] Hinduism spans a wide range of beliefs such as henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheism and nontheism.[8][9][12][13] One popular theological interpretation is the Advaita Vedanta tradition, which relies mainly on the Upanishads and declares absolute monism, exemplified in the concept of Brahman (the ultimate reality).[14][15] When a person is devoid of ignorance (Avidyā), he/she finds the truth by realizing that his/her true nature, pure soul, or inner Self (Ātman) is identical to Brahman.[16] Until then, he/she is usually ignorant of the ultimate reality and therefore believes that the material world around him/her is real and indulges in it, when it's actually not and is an illusion (Māyā).[16] The Brahman, which is absolute and pure, and the Ātman, which is also absolute and pure, are the same in this school of Hindu thought, which exemplifies the Hindu concept of God.[14][16]

Islam is a system of thought that believes in the concept of the unity and uniqueness of God (Tawḥīd), which declares exclusive monotheism, is considered to be the defining doctrine of the Islamic religion.[17] God in Islam is conceived as the absolute one, the all-powerful and all-knowing ruler of the universe, and the creator of everything in existence.[4][18][19] According to Islam, God is transcendent, therefore Muslims do not attribute human forms to God. God is described and referred to by several names or attributes.[20] Muslims are required to affirm daily (in five canonical daily prayers each include a recitation of the Shahada), as one of the five pillars of Islam, the Shahada, declaring that "There is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."[21][22]

Scriptures and messengers

The sacred scriptures of Islam are the Qurān and the Ḥadīths i.e. reports about what Muhammad said and did. Ḥadīths are varied and have many versions. According to the Islamic doctrine, Jesus Christ was also one of the messengers from God.[23] Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last messenger and the Qurān was the last revelation from God, delivered to him through the angel Jibrīl.[24] The Ḥadīths contain the sunnah, or the reports of Muhammad's life, sayings, actions, and examples he set. The Qurān and the reliable Ḥadīths are considered in Islam as the sources of Islamic law, or Sharīʿah.[25]

Unlike Islam, Hinduism doesn't have centralized religious authorities, governing bodies. It has some defining historical and religious texts, the sacred Hindu scriptures, traditional ecclesiastical order, incarnations, and the legal code Manusmṛti.[26][27] Spiritual knowledge of Hinduism is contained in texts called Śruti ("what is heard") and Smṛti ("what is remembered"). These sacred texts discuss diverse topics, including theology, cosmology, mythology, philosophy, rituals and rites of passage, and many others. Major scriptures in Hinduism include the Vedas and Upanishads (both Śruti), the Epics (Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata), Purāṇas, Dharmaśāstras, Āgamas, and the Bhagavad Gītā (all Smṛti).[28][29]


According to Islam, one after death either enters Paradise (Jannah) or Hell (Jahannam), depending on their deeds. However unlike Muslims, Hindus believe in cycle of reincarnation.[30] However, the concept of higher and lower realms of existence can be found in Hinduism, though the realms are temporary places.[31]

Both know demons (Shaitan/Asura), who are constantly war against human's desires and the Divine.[32] Asuras are part of Hindu mythology along with Devas, Yakshas and Rakshasas. Asuras feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.[33][34] Asuras are sometimes considered nature spirits. They battle constantly with the devas.[35]

Similarities can still be found at the concept of the Divine and the world. Both belief in the existence of an entirety supreme power, either called Brahman or Allah. Brahman is a metaphysical concept which is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe,[36][37] while Allah is the Arabic word for God in Abrahamic religions. Assimilated in local lore, the Islamic concept of God became comparable to the notion of the ultimate reality expressing itself through different names as the creator, the maintainer and the destroyer.[38] The Sufi concept of Waḥdat al-Wujūd is close to the world view asserted in the Advaita Vedanta.[39] Some Islamic scholars belief that the worlds created by God will perish and created anew resembling the Hindu notion of an endless procress of generation and decay.[40][41]

Pilgrimage is found in both religions, Hajj to Mecca in Islam, while Kumbh Mela and Tirtha Yatra in Hinduism.[42] Muslims performs 7 rounds around Kaaba during Hajj which is called Tawaf.[43] Hindus also perform one or more rounds around the center (Garbhagriya) of a temple (one to twenty-one[44]),[45][46][47] which is called as Parikrama (known in Sanskrit as pradakśiṇā). Both of them are commonly called circumambulation.[48][49]

By some members of the Ahmadiya Muslim Community, Islamic Prophet Muhammad is believed to be the Hindu Avatar Kalki; some of the Muslim scholars and a few of the Hindu scholars[50][51] also argued that kalki is mentioned indicating Muhammad in some Hindu scriptures.[51][52] However, most of the Hindu scholars widely discarded it as a false theory, claiming that Kalki is supposed to arrive at the end of Kali Yuga, not in the beginning.

The Mahdi (Arabic: ٱلْمَهْدِيّ‎, romanized: al-mahdiyy), meaning "the rightly guided one", is an eschatological Messianic figure who, according to Islamic belief, will appear at the end of times to rid the world of evil and injustice.

Kalki is also described in the Puranas as the avatar who rejuvenates existence by ending the darkest and destructive period to remove adharma and ushering in the Satya Yuga.

The idea of Fanaa in Sufi Islam has been compared to Samadhi.[41]



Apostasy, defined in Islam as the conscious act by a Muslim of leaving Islam or blaspheming against it, is according to some Islamic schools of law, a religious crime.[53][54][55]

Hinduism does not have a "unified system of belief encoded in a declaration of faith or a creed. Hinduism is more tolerant to apostasy.[9][11]Some Hindu sects believe that ethical conversion, without force or reward is completely acceptable.[56] The Vashistha Dharmasastra, the Apastamba Dharmasutra and Yajnavalkya state that a son of an apostate is also considered an apostate.[57] Smr̥ticandrikā lists apostates as one group of people upon touching whom, one should take a bath.[58] Nāradasmṛti and Parasara-samhita states that a wife can remarry if her husband becomes an apostate.[59] The saint Parashara commented that religious rites are disturbed if an apostate witnesses them.[60] He also comments that those who forgo the Rig Veda, Samaveda and Yajurveda are "nagna" (naked) or an apostate.[61]

Both religions state that there should be no compulsion in religion, although Islamic scholars may call for punishments against Muslims who have blasphemed.[62]


Blasphemy against God and against Muhammad is a religious crime in Islam.[63] The Quran in verse and many Hadiths of Islam discuss blasphemy and its punishment.[63] A variety of actions, speeches or behavior can constitute blasphemy in Islam.[64] Some examples include insulting or cursing Allah or Prophets.

Drawing offensive cartoons, tearing or burning holy literature of Islam, creating or using music or painting or video or novels to mock or criticise prophet Muhammad are some examples of blasphemous acts. Punishment can range from imprisonment, flogging to execution.[64][65]

Open discussion and criticism of spiritual thoughts, ideas and deities is allowed in Hinduism.[66] The concept of "divine blasphemy" or "heresy" does not exist in Hinduism, and ancient Hindu texts make no provisions for blasphemy.[67][68]

Caste and creed

Hindu texts such as the Manusmriti segregate people through social stratification and class i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras.[69] Islamic texts do not segregate Muslims. Hadīth, however mention the prophecy of the Muslim Ummah being separated into 73 sects on the basis of practices of islam not on class. There are differences in their traditional practices as the tradition differ according to geography but spiritually all Muslims are equal. - Ahl al-Sunnah wa٬ُl-Jamāٝah [70][71][72]

While Hinduism texts do not list thousands of castes, in practice, the Hindu caste system has been described variously as four Varnas or as thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called jātis.[69] [73][74][75][76] Scholars[77][78] [79][80]


Khitan (circumcision) of males is required in Islam. The Qur'an itself does not mention circumcision explicitly in any verse, but it is mentioned in the Hadiths of Islam. Circumcision is not compulsory in Islam but it is an important ritual aimed at improving cleanliness. It is strongly encouraged but not enforced.[1]

Circumcision is not a religious requirement in Hinduism. However, in the modern era, some Hindus may practice circumcision for some medical benefits as is done in the USA.[81]

Consanguineous marriage

Consanguineous marriage are those where the bride and groom share a grandparent or near ancestor.[82] Islam prohibit marriage due to consanguinity with ancestors, descendants, siblings, siblings of ancestors and descendants of siblings.[83] However marriage with cousins and farther consanguineous relatives is allowed. Hinduism forbids consanguineous marriage, and strongly recommends seven degrees of biological separation between bride and groom.[84] However, for many communities in South India, especially in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, it is common for Hindu cross cousins to marry, with matrilateral cross-cousin (mother's brother's daughter) marriages being especially favored. In the region, "uncle-niece and first-cousin unions are preferential and jointly account for some 30% of marriages." These practices are particularly followed in landed communities such as the Reddys or Vellalars, who wish to keep wealth within the family. Also unlike North India, this practice is also common in Brahmins in the region. Arranged endogamous consanguineous marriage are very common in Muslims, particularly first cousin marriages, followed by second cousin marriages.[85] About 25 to 40% of all marriages in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE are first cousin marriages; while overall consanguineous arranged marriages exceed 65 to 80% in various regions of the Islamic Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.[86][87]


Islamic scriptures, in its history and unlike Hinduism, compelled the payment of a special tax called Jizya from dhimmi who are not liable to pay Zaka'at, the non-Muslims who live in a Muslim state.[88][89] Jizya was a tool of social stratification and treasury's revenue from non-Muslims.[89] Jizya was a reminder of subordination of a non-Muslim under Muslims, and created a financial and political incentive to convert to Islam.[89][90]

There is no such concept of "Jizya" in Hindu texts.[citation needed]


Many societies throughout history have practised slavery, and Muslim and Hindus societies were no exception.

Islam's approach to slavery added the idea that freedom was the natural state of affairs for human beings and in line with this it limited the opportunities to enslave people, commended the freeing of slaves and regulated the way slaves were treated:

  • Islam greatly limited those who could be enslaved and under what circumstances (although these restrictions were often evaded)
  • Islam treated slaves as human beings as well as property
  • Islam banned the mistreatment of slaves - indeed the tradition repeatedly stresses the importance of treating slaves with kindness and compassion
  • Islam allowed slaves to achieve their freedom and made freeing slaves a virtuous act
  • Islam barred Muslims from enslaving other Muslims

The Quran and the Hadiths discourage the institution of slaves.[91][92] Under Islamic law, Muslim men can have sexual relations with female captives or concubines and slaves with her consent.[93][94] Islam, in many cases, encouraged a slave's manumission. Islam only allows slavery through certain means and many Islamic scholars claim Islam blocked many ways through which people used to own slaves.

The practice of slavery in early and late Vedic era of Hinduism is documented.

However, some Hindu texts use the term dasa. Some scholars translate this as slave,[95] while other scholars have translated it as servant and religious devotee.[96][97] Arthashastra text of Hinduism dedicates a chapter to dasa where a financially bankrupt individual may and become a servant of another. Arthashastra grants a dasa legal rights, and declares abusing, hurting and raping a dasa as a crime.[95][98]

In South India, a devadasi (servant of deva (god) or devi (goddess)) is a girl "dedicated" to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life. The dedication takes place in a Pottukattu ceremony which is similar in some ways to marriage. Originally, in addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced Sadir (Bharatanatya), Odissi and other classical Indian artistic traditions and enjoyed a high social status as dance and music were essential part of temple worship.[99][100][101][102]

Food-related issues

Islam has restrictions on food, such as how the meat is prepared.[103] Halal meat is prepared by ritual slaughter that involves cutting the jugular veins of the animal with a sharp knife. This leads to death via bleeding.[104] Meat from animals that die of natural causes or accident is not allowed. Beef is a sought after meat among Muslims, but they strictly avoid pork and alcohol.[105][106]

Hinduism, with its emphasis on non-violence against all creatures, tends to be vegetarian, and lacto-vegetarian meals are common. However, food habits are left as a choice for Hindus and alcohol consumption is accepted. There are varied opinions regarding the permissibility of eating meat in Hinduism, depending upon the interpretation of the Hindu scriptures. Vegetarianism is a choice for most Hindus, although some sects emphasize vegetarianism. Some Hindus consider violence against animals, that is used to produce any meat, so unacceptable that they avoid eating with non-vegetarians. Most observant Hindus strictly avoid cow-based beef, but some may eat water buffalo-based beef or pork as an alternative.[105]

The manner in which an animal is slaughtered in Islamic rituals is considered cruel and barbaric by Hindus, as Hindus consume Jhatka meat. Jhatka is meat from an animal that has been killed instantly, such as by a single strike of a sword or axe to sever the head, as opposed to ritualistically slow slaughter (kutha) in the halal method (dhabihah). Jhatka is the method of meat production demanded by most Hindus who eat meat, as this provides a quick and painless death to the animal. Both methods use sharp knives. In the Jhatka method, a swift uninterrupted cut severs the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins, vagus nerves and the spine. In the Halal method, the slaughter is done with a swift deep incision with a sharp knife on the throat, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord and nervous tissue intact, followed by a period where the blood of the animal is drained out. A prayer to God is not required in the Jhatka method with each animal commercially slaughtered, but a prayer to God (Allah) is required at the start or if there is any interruption during Halal meat production.

Slaughter of a cow is considered heinous in Hinduism and has been a cause of Hindu-Muslim riots in India.

Politics and historical interaction

H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India[107] claims the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century. It was however the subsequent expansion of the Turkish and Persian led Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent over the next millennium that significantly expanded the interaction of Islam with Hinduism.[108]

Peaceful cooperation

Translation of scriptures

The Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned many Hindu texts to be translated into Persian.[109]

Girish Chandra Sen, a Brahmo Samaj missionary, was the first person to produce the complete translation of the Qur'an into Bengali in 1886.[110]


There have been instances of syncretic cooperation on music on Islamic and Hindu theme. The national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam, for example, wrote a lot of Islamic devotional songs for the mainstream of Bengali folk music.[111] He also explored Hindu devotional music by composing Shama Sangeet, bhajans and kirtans, often merging Islamic and Hindu values. Nazrul's poetry and songs explored the philosophy of Islam and Hinduism.[112]

Religious violence

Historical records of religious violence are extensive for medieval India, in the form of corpus written by numerous Muslim historians. Will Durant states that Hindus were historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent.[113]

Recurrent clashes between Hindus and Muslims appear in the historical record during the Delhi Sultanate. They continued through the Mughal Empire, and then in the British colonial period.[114]

During the British period, religious affiliation became an issue ... Religious communities tended to become political constituencies. This was particularly true of the Muslim League created in 1905, which catered exclusively for the interests of the Muslims ... Purely Hindu organizations also appeared such as the Hindu Sabha (later Mahasabha) founded in 1915. In the meantime Hindu-Muslim riots became more frequent; but they were not a novelty, they are attested since the Delhi sultanate and were already a regular feature of the Mughal Empire .... When in 1947 he [Muhammad Ali Jinnah] became the first Governor General of Pakistan and the new border was demarcated, gigantic riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims.

— Marc Gaborieau, Anthropology Today[114]

There have been periodic instances of violence against Muslims in India from before its partition from Pakistan in 1947,[115][116][117][118] frequently in the form of mob attacks on Muslims by Hindus that form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Over 10,000 people have been killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence since 1950 in 6,933 instances of communal violence between 1954[119][120][121][122] and 1982.[123]

The roots of violence against Muslims lie in India's history, stemming from lingering resentment toward the Islamic domination of India during the Middle Ages, policies established by the colonial government during the period of British rule, the violent partition of India into a Muslim Pakistan, and a secular Hindu-majority India with a large Muslim minority.[124][undue weight? ] Some scholars have described incidents of anti-Muslim violence as politically motivated and organized anti-Muslim violence are politically motivated and a part of the electoral strategy of mainstream political parties they called them pogroms[125] or acts of genocide,[126][127] or a form of state terrorism with "organized political massacres"[128] rather than mere "riots".[129] Others argue that, although their community faces discrimination and violence, some Muslims have been highly successful,[130] that the violence is not as widespread as it appears, but is restricted to certain urban areas because of local socio-political conditions, and there are many cities where Muslims and Hindus live peacefully together with almost no incidences of sectarian violence.

Hindu-Islamic relations in India

Though it is widely believed that communal violence between Hindus and Muslims began during the period of British colonial rule, this is not true.[131] In the 14th century, the Moroccan scholar Ibn Batuta mentioned riots frequently breaking out between Hindus and Muslims in Mangalore.[131] However, tensions between Hindus and Muslims was further fueled by the policies of the British colonial government.[132] An example of this division can be found in the form of mass religious conversion that occurs as a back and forth between the Hindus and Muslims as a threat of political power between the two. In 1992, Hindu missionaries successfully converted rajput Muslims as a means of disassembling upper class Muslims. The Malkana, Cheeta Merats, Maul-e-Salaam garasia, and the Mula Jats were some of the rajput groups converted.[133]

In 1947, Pakistan was created as a separate entity for Muslims, making the Muslim population in India a minority compared to Hindus and further deepening the divide between them.[134] Since then, there have been many riots between Hindus and Muslims. One of the most destructive riots was the 2002 Gujarat Riots which was spread over three days and led to the death of more than 1000 people.[135] This occurred as a result of the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, which was followed by Hindu retaliation against Muslims.[135] Another prominent controversy between Hindus and Muslims is the Ayodhya Ram Mandir - Babri Masjid case. Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a commander of Babur. However, Hindus believe Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and that the Mosque was built after tearing down a Temple. [136] and the Hindus thus raised legal objections to the presence of the Mosque.[136] Fortunately, both Hindus and Muslims have agreed to maintain peace and preserve communal harmony in Ayodhya, in light of the Supreme Court delivering its verdict regarding this case on 9 November 2019.[137] Thus, though Hindu-Muslim relations are complicated and are fueled by hate, there are also many places where they peacefully coexist in India.[138]

Contemporary interaction

India separated Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 AD. Various news agencies, such as BBC, Associated Press and Reuters have reported periodic violence against Hindus by some Muslims in Bangladesh, and attempts by the Bangladeshi government to punish such violence.[139][140] For example, in early 2013, Hindu families were attacked and killed, as well as dozens of temples burnt/destroyed after the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi of the Jamaat-e-Islami to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.[141][142][143]

See also


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Islam in South Asia
  • Holt, Peter M. (1977), Peter Malcolm Holt; Ann K. S. Lambton; Bernard Lewis (eds.), The Cambridge History of Islam (New ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521291378
  • Khalidi, Omar (2009), Shiping Hua (ed.), Islam and democratization in Asia, Cambria Press, ISBN 978-1604976328
  • Metcalf, Barbara D. (2009), Barbara D. Metcalf (ed.), Islam in South Asia in Practice, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691044200
Communal violence
  • Wilkinson, Steven I. (2006), Votes and Violence: Electoral Competition and Ethnic Riots in India, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521536059
  • Reference, Blackwell (1999). Townson, Duncan (ed.). "Indian communal massacres (1946–7)". Blackwell Reference. doi:10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x. ISBN 9780631209379.
  • Markovits, Claude. "India from 1900 to 1947". Mass Violence.Org.
  • D'Costa, Bina (2010), Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415565660
  • Ghosh, Partha S. (2004), Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Peace Studies: An Introduction To the Concept, Scope, and Themes, SAGE, ISBN 978-0761996606
  • Hussain, Monirul (2009), Sibaji Pratim Basu (ed.), The Fleeing People of South Asia: Selections from Refugee Watch, Anthem, p. 261, ISBN 978-8190583572
  • Berglund, Henrik (2011), Galina Lindquist; Don Handelman (eds.), Religion, Politics, and Globalization: Anthropological Approaches, Berghahn, p. 105, ISBN 978-1845457716
  • Smith, Glenn (2005), Asvi Warman Adam; Dewi Fortuna Anwar (eds.), Violent Internal Conflicts in Asia Pacific: Histories, Political Economies, and Policies, Yayasan Obor, ISBN 9789794615140
  • Pandey, Gyanendra (2005), Routine violence: nations, fragments, histories, Stanford University Press, ISBN 978-0804752640
  • Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis (2012), Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India, Princeton University Press, p. 2, ISBN 978-0691151779
  • Metcalf, Barbara (2013), Deana Heath; Chandana Mathur (eds.), Communalism and Globalization in South Asia and its Diaspora, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415857857

External links

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